Decisions come in many forms; some are labored, some are impetuous, and some just seem to decide themselves with clarity without any effort on our part whatsoever. These latter ones tend to come about when we’re being mindful; in the moment, present, and aware. Impetuous decisions are more frequently the result of amygdala-fueled excitement or stress that, as we know, often don’t end well. And those labored decisions? Well, when we’re entirely caught up in the future and the past, when we’re unable to connect with that little voice inside that speaks so clearly to us when we’re still, then we tend to personally take on all the responsibility for a decision and its outcomes—it’s a lot to carry, and that makes it hard to do.
It’s an interesting irony that when we’re being mindful, when we’re completely connected with the world around us, when we’re at our most personable; that is when we are least likely to take things on personally. And when we’re not taking things on personally, decisions often prove easier to make. It’s as though the outcome becomes less important than disrupting the sense of peace that we experience in our mindful moments. At these times, the only question we tend to ask when a decision confronts us is, what will bring me the most peace?
It’s a good thing to notice. When we’re in peace, we want more of it. And have you noticed? When we’re in frustration or pain or stress, we tend to find ways to get more of them too. In these times, we may tell ourselves that we want to be free from our suffering, but we behave in ways that counteract that. In those times, it’s often hard to bring yourself down, and no strategy offered by anybody is likely to serve.
But in those times when we’re struggling to make a decision; in those times when we have that nagging desire to say or do something, accompanied by doubts over whether it’s the right thing to do—at times like this, we do have a tool readily available to us. It’s very simple—it’s the same tool we use when we’re being mindful: simply ask yourself, what will bring me the most peace?
What we tend to do in these situations is to get caught up in all sorts of tangents; how will it impact others? what is the best thing for them? what will the different options get me? This is where it gets complicated, but the best solution is invariably the one that brings you the most peace. After all, if you’re in peace, you’re in a space in which you can continue coming to good decisions, and the more good decisions you make, the better things are going to turn out for everyone and everything around you.
So, stop fretting. Take a deep breath. Take another one. Close your eyes and count another 15 breaths or so. Are you in a more peaceful space? Good. Now go back to the decision you were just trying to come to: what will bring you the most peace?